Having been opening for just five months (almost to the day), Tribute announced today that it has closed, citing the economy. "After careful deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to close our doors," said owner Phil Fernandez and GM/partner Simon Lamb in a press release that was issued earlier today. "We have succumbed to the poor economic environment that has not helped our new restaurant to grow roots."
But the restaurant has had its share of problems even before it opened. Its original chef, Paul Wildermuth, sadly passed away about a year ago. Then back in May when the restaurant was supposed to open earlier in the summer, it announced that Brandon Baltzley was leaving his position as executive chef to go to rehab and would be replaced by Lawrence Letrero. After Eater heard rumblings of possible staff walkouts in the kitchen, Letrero eventually left the restaurant and was replaced by Jared Case at the beginning of September.
This isn't to say that Tribute, which was housed inside the Chicago's Essex Inn on a somewhat quieter stretch of South Michigan Avenue, didn't have its fans, as is evident by the number of people showing disappointment on Tribute's Facebook page. Critics were mixed, but whatever was said, it unfortunately didn't bring enough people to the 6,800 square-foot restaurant with a dining room and lounge to keep it afloat.
"We have tried to weather these crucial beginning months for any operation, but we have not been able to sustain," the press release continued. "We are currently exploring options for the space, including a potential sale to another operator, but Tribute as it stands now will not continue."
· Look Inside Tribute, Opening Today in the Essex Inn [~EChi~]
· Brandon Baltzley out at Tribute, Lawrence Letrero In [~EChi~]
· Lawrence Letrero Out at Tribute, Replaced by Jared Case [~EChi~]